Testosterone is an androgen hormone which regulates the development of the male reproductive system and male secondary sex characteristics.
Testosterone regulation involves using a drug (such as leuprolide) to reduce the amount of testosterone in the body. This is sometimes done to treat medical conditions such as prostate cancer or to help reduce sexually inappropriate behaviour.
Some people believe that reducing testosterone can also have beneficial effects in individuals with autism. This is because they believe that some of the symptoms of autism are caused by toxins from heavy metals such as mercury.
They also believe that since androgens increase the toxicity of mercury, reducing the amount of testosterone will reduce the effects of that toxicity.
The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) made the following recommendation.
'Do not use testosterone regulation for the management of core symptoms of autism in adults.' (NICE, 2012)
Leuprolide is a very strong drug, designed to change the hormonal balance in men and women. Used on children or adolescents, it could cause disastrous and irreversible damage to sexual functioning.
It is also very expensive, with some providers charging between £125 and £1,000 - or $250 and $2,000 - per injection.
There is no scientifically valid or reliable research evidence to suggest that Leuprolide is effective in reducing any of the problem behaviours associated with autism.
For all of these reasons we believe that Leuprolide should not be used to treat individuals with autism, unless and only if it is used to treat disorders, such as prostate cancer, for which it was designed.
Please read our Disclaimer on Autism Interventions